Today, as the Battle Robot chatted about next week’s new manga (see Sean’s post later this evening), a title came up that is one I have tried hard to like, but failed utterly to do so. My desire to “like” is large, in general. I’m a liker. I like to like things. My ability to “like” is a major contributor to my quality of life. This may diminish my worth as a manga critic, but in the big picture I’m okay with that if it means that, above all else, I get to deeply enjoy the medium I spend so many hours with. Obviously I don’t like everything, and I’m not afraid to complain loudly and often, especially when it comes to genres directed at my gender, like BL, shoujo, and josei manga. (Yes, Black Bird, I’m looking at you.) But I always approach a new series with the desire to like it (even love it, if possible), and I’m occasionally heartbroken when that desire bears no fruit.
So, with that in mind…
3 manga series I wish I could like:
1. Black Butler | By Yana Tobaso | Yen Press – Though I’ll admit I gave up many volumes ago, I initially tried hard to like Black Butler. I’ll usually give any series at least three volumes to grab me, and I gave this one five, but my efforts were in vain. Why did I want so much to like Black Butler? I suppose it’s a longing for connection. With its enormous female fanbase and significant slash fandom, it crosses over heavily into circles I once called my own, and my lack of ability to connect lends itself to a sort of (mild) identity crisis. Furthermore, the series runs in my pet “shounen” magazine GFantasy, home of many series I do like (and even love), such as Gestalt, Nabari no Ou, and my beloved Pandora Hearts. Is it just me? I fear it may be.
2. Alice in the Country of Hearts | By QuinRose & Soumei Hoshino | Yen Press – My desire to like this series has a name, and that name is “Michelle.” Normally, I’d feel no alarm or sadness at all over my inability to like a reverse-harem series based on a game. In fact, I’d consider any positive reaction to be more of a pleasant surprise. In this case, however, Michelle’s enjoyment of the series (and her oft-stated hope I might share in her enjoyment) raises the stakes considerably, and I’m rather sad and ashamed to admit that after reading through two of Yen Press’ new omnibus volumes I just can’t quite get there. I’m so sorry, Michelle. I really, really wanted to like this. Can you forgive me?
3. Saiyuki Reload | By Kazuya Minekura | Tokyopop – Of all of these, I think Saiyuki Reload makes me saddest of all. Those who know me must be aware of my fervent love for the works of Kazuya Minekura, especially her unfinished BL noir-action series Wild Adapter, which Michelle, David, and I have spent much time praising to high heaven (or the non-theist equivalent of same). Wild Adapter, in fact, is one of the few topics capable of compelling me to discuss things like industry news. Somewhat less beloved by me, but still thoroughly enjoyed, is Minekura’s nine-volume shounen fantasy-adventure Saiyuki, which was extended into a shoujo series for Comic Zero Sum called Saiyuki Reload.
I originally borrowed all the then-available volumes of Saiyuki and Saiyuki Reload from a friend, and it’s telling that afterwards I made it my business to acquire my own copies of the former and not the latter. I don’t know what it was—maybe the increased indulgence in the characters’ hotness and BL subtext demanded by a shoujo magazine—but something about the continuation just didn’t click. Though I’ll admit that, were it possible to get my hands on these volumes again, I’d be open to giving it a second chance. License rescue, anyone?
Readers, what manga series do you wish you could love? And why?
Michelle Smith saysApril 18, 2013 at 1:13 pm
Hee! Of course I can! I’ll be the first to say that it’s not amazing manga or anything, but I definitely did feel the pleasant surprise.
AshLynx saysApril 18, 2013 at 2:44 pm
It’s always been Paradise Kiss for me. My university library had it (Tokyopop versions, this was before the license rescue), and I read maybe 2 volumes of it (at least), and it just wasn’t doing anything for me. But it’s so praised everywhere, I wish I could join in on the conversation, except I honestly didn’t like it.
AshLynx saysApril 19, 2013 at 6:59 pm
Seeing other comments made me come up with some others indeed!
Pluto-I do adore Astro Boy and all things Tezuka, this didn’t do much for me. I could really just put Naoki Urasawa in general here though, so Monster too. I didn’t really read enough of 20th Century Boys to be fair. Oh except Master Keaton, which is awesome, but Urasawa only did art for it.
Natsume’s Book of Friends-for something that feels so like a mix between Mushishi and Kekkaishi, I feel like I should love this, but the stories aren’t as thought provoking as Mushishi’s are and the pacing isn’t beautiful like Kekkaishi, so I’m kind left going “meh”. I think the anime is a bit better, but I’m also “meh” over that too. I plan to hold onto my Premium s1 & 2 set I blind bought until it goes oop though, hehe!
Flowers of Evil-I love seeing all the talk about the anime lately, it’s pretty hilarious no matter which side you’re on. I’m kinda neutral, I doubt I’m going to touch it, but I’m also starting to understand why making it ugly as sin works for the emotion it’s trying to get from the audience. Yeah, I didn’t find this manga dark enough, if you can believe that. I just didn’t see it going anywhere interesting either, so I dropped it after two volumes. Maybe someday I will watch the anime for unintentional comedy because there’s hardly a single screenshot out there that it’s hilarious without trying.
CLAMP in general is another, I’ve yet to be wowed by any work (and I think some works are downright terrible)
Mars-still makes lots of favorite lists even today, I do like the author for other things (like ES), but Mars didn’t do much for me.
Yotsuba&!-I definitely don’t find Yotsuba herself charming, but incredibly annoying. I just try not to make eye-contact with it in book stores, lest it try to strike up awkward conversation.
Sexy Voice and Robo-another critic darling that I thought was just kinda “meh”
Attack on Titan-It kinda just makes me want to play Shadow of the Colossus again, fighting titans is cool, I just remember the personal connection I felt with Shadow of the Colossus that I really didn’t get here. I guess I just didn’t feel enough emotion attached to the action which is what makes action epics like Firefighter Daigo and Basara so awesome.
Sarah Hayes saysApril 18, 2013 at 7:52 pm
For me, it’s Gravitation. I normally love me a goofy boys’ love manga but something about Gravitation’s artwork and offbeat sense of humor throws me off every time. Which is a shame cos so many of my friends love it!
Sara K. saysApril 18, 2013 at 9:38 pm
Well, there are manga which didn’t grab me, but which I eventually plan to give another shot, so those manga are not going to be on this list.
Then there are manga which I don’t like, but also don’t want to like, even though they are popular among critics. Those manga are also not in this list.
These are three manga I really wanted to like and … I think that giving them another shot would do no good.
1) A Bride’s Story. I didn’t dislike A Bride’s Story, and yes the artwork is lovely, and I really like the idea of reading about nomadic people in Central Asia (I did read part of the Baburnama), but in the end my reaction was … meh.
2) Pluto. I really do dislike this one. After loving 20th Century Boys (and being hooked on Monster at one point), I was really excited about Pluto and … well, I don’t want to like it *now*, but I really wanted to like it while I was reading it, and it would have been nice if I had actually liked it.
3) We Were There. I wish I could share in the love that MB pours on We Were There, and it seemed like the kind of thing which could appeal to me, but I simply did not get into it.
Aaron saysApril 19, 2013 at 10:33 am
two that immeditely come t mind for me are Limit wich ultmitely proved too melodrmatic for my tastes and Flowers OF Evil wich I loved the first two volumes but than it went into a needlesslly dark place for me that I just washed my hands of. Also Twin Spica I kind of liked the first two volumes but ultmitely I got a little sick of people complaining why it was’nt popular along with the fact that it felt like it was more valued becuese of it’s “obscurity” than any actual merit. Also Bride’s Story wich is the literary equvlent of watching paint dry to me as the Mangaka seems way too intrested in certen things that just derail the plot in short almost every criticism of the banality of Slice of Life Manga justified.
starsamaria saysApril 19, 2013 at 1:48 pm
Hmm…I sort of feel this way about Natsume’s Book of Friends. I gave it a positive review on my blog, and I do find it to be an emotionally moving and well-done series, but I’m just not personally attached to it. I don’t have a real problem with the manga, but since tend not to get attached to episodic series, so Natsume simply just isn’t my cup of tea.
Kate saysApril 19, 2013 at 5:23 pm
I’m right there with you, Melinda. I read the first 4 volumes of Black Butler trying to figure out what everyone loves about it, but I couldn’t ever figure out the appeal. So, you’re definitely not alone. I wanted to like it, started reading it prepared to like it, but just didn’t.
I couldn’t get into Alice in the Country of Hearts, either. I tried reading it a few years back, but my library only has 4 volumes of Tokyopop’s release, so I’ve since asked my library to purchase the rest since Yen Press rescued the license. I’ll give it another try, but after reading 2/3 of it, I’m not expecting my opinion to change. The completest in me demands that I at least finish it with only a few more chapters to go.
More than having series that I wish I could like though, are series that I wish I liked more than I do. There are several that I keep up with that I always hope I’ll start enjoying more with each successive volume only to come away a little disappointed. I enjoy reading them, but I’m still waiting for them to capture my heart.
hapax saysApril 20, 2013 at 3:31 pm
Seeing so many titles named that I have *tried* so very hard to like but just fell flat for me has given me the courage to confess:
My name is hapax and I don’t like A DEVIL AND HER LOVE SONG.
Everyone else seems to find it the most amazing, fresh, enthralling story out there. I gave it two volumes and couldn’t give them away fast enough. I found the art to be ugly, all the secondary characters to be unlikable jerks, and the protagonist to be simply baffling (what the heck is a “lovely spin”, anyhow?)
Ahhh. I feel much better now!
forest fairy 801 saysApril 23, 2013 at 9:18 am
The Betrayal Knows My Name…. it was highly recommended and I generally like BL-like manga, but this one was so boring, I don’t think I even managed to read the first omnibus until the end. I felt that the series could be so much more intense and that other authors would do it much better. Haven’t tried it again since. But the artwork was so pleasant, I really wanted to like it.
Kobato and Gate 7…. I love CLAMP. I’ve read all of Kobato, but in the end decided that it was just too simplistic and way too stretched out for 6 volumes. The only good thing about it was seeing some of the characters from their older works again. So it was promptly donated to the library. Ditto Gate 7. It seemed so very generic that I became afraid CLAMP would never again publish something I’d enjoy reading.
Sailor Moon…. I’m sorry. I think I was far too old for this one. Everyone posted raving reviews of it and it’s always topping the charts but for a 30-something woman it just doesn’t cut it. I loved Cardcaptor Sakura, though.
Angel saysJanuary 6, 2015 at 12:58 am
I love Black Butler, but i do understand that it isn’t a series for everyone. Most people(fangirls) like it for the hot sebastian. But for me it had to be how Ceil and Sebastian did things. How they solved mysteries, and how they take down the antagonists. Of course the main story is only touched upon every once and a while, and it is mostly arc based, meaning it follows the stories of each arc more then focusing mainly on the over all plot. But see i like mysteries and fantasy, and black butler gives that to me in a very different odd way. Though i admit it has it’s problems, i still have fun with it, and i like seeing how Ceil solves a mystery or deals with a certain problem. Also i think the best arcs of black butler actually start from volume 6 and up with the Noah’s ark circus arc and onward. But it’s probably not your thing if you’ve read up to vol. five and still aren’t into it, but don’t feel bad Black butler is an odd manga that many love but isn’t exactly for everyone. ^_^